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Can alien students dictate university policies?

November 7, 2008

I never even have as much right over here, at the US…but see the circus going back in my home country. And I never knew that UM have had much ties with Iranian universities to begin with. I thought they preferred the Saudi Arabians. But then, Iranian students are the new cash cow so one has to keep the clients happy, though I do know quite a number of Iranians who left Iran precisely because they found the current regime stifling.

Republished from an online subscription based newspaper, Malaysiakini.com

Invite to Nobel laureate scrapped after ‘protest from students’
Oct 22, 08 7:45pm
Universiti Malaya said today it has withdrawn an invitation to Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi to give a speech on Islam, because of objections from its Iranian students.

MCPX

shirin ebadiEbadi, an outspoken critic of the human rights situation in Iran, had been due to deliver a speech titled ‘Islam and Cultural Diversity’ at the university on Nov 3.

The university’s vice-chancellor Rafiah Salim denied there was pressure from the government to scrap the event and said the decision was made “out of respect for our Iranian students who were not very happy.”

“We wrote to the Foreign Ministry and sought their advice. We did not want to cancel the programme … but the ministry said we should decide in the best interests of the university,” she told AFP.

“We have a lot of Iranian students here and we have good relations with Iranian universities. We did not want to create any negative consequences to those ties as well as with our students here.”

Decision not ‘politically motivated’

Ebadi, an Iranian human rights lawyer who in 2003 became the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, was invited as part of a series in Malaysia and neighbouring Thailand organised by the Austrian-based International Peace Foundation (IPF).

Other speakers include fellow Nobel peace laureate President Jose-Ramos Horta of East Timor, and American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.

Rafiah said the decision was not politically motivated and that the organisers had to “weigh the pros and cons and take into consideration the big number of Iranian students” in the country.

Ebadi heads a group of human rights lawyers who have defended many clients accused of political and security crimes.

She has said that she has faced death threats, as well as hostility from the Iranian state media and government for defending the rights of followers of the minority Baha’i religion, which is banned in Iran.

Her daughter has also been accused of apostasy, a serious crime in Iran which carries the death penalty.

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